When the Wakefield Skate Park opened Saturday, April 24, Robert Hill, 15, finally had a place to do his favorite skateboard trick, the "mute grab."
"You're in the air and grab your board," Hill said. "That's what I do at skate parks I can't do other places."
Hill had two fans from Lake Braddock Secondary School in tow. Sabrina Allsbury, 15, and Cassi Proctor, 14, came along for moral support.
"We're here to watch him fall on his face, laugh real loud," Cassi said.
Lots of skaters peered through the fence, waiting to try their favorite move at the park while local politicians had to go through the preliminaries, which included cutting a ribbon. Wakefield Park is in the Braddock District, and although Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) put in many hours making the park happen, she gave all the credit to Alex Bauer, who initiated the idea as a freshman at Lake Braddock years ago. Bauer had an idea for a skate park at a time when county officials were revising a plan for the park, so the skate park fit in the plans.
"He came and talked to us at the right time," Bulova said.
Bauer is now a mechanical engineering student at Virginia Commonwealth University, but he remembered his first experience in politics, which resulted in the skate park.
"It's weird to actually see your dream become a reality," Bauer said.
Nate Cherry, a student at Kent Gardens Elementary in McLean, received credit for some of the park design and its logo.
"I think the ramps are the most important," Nate said. "I just gave them my drawing."
Fairfax County Board of Supervisor chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At large) was also handing out credit.
"It's a great example of the fact that the government listens," Connolly said.
FILLED WITH RAMPS, rails, boxes and jumps, the 21,500-square-foot skating facility is located north of the Audrey Moore RECenter in Wakefield Park off Braddock Road. An 8-foot fence surrounds the asphalt facility, with a skate shop at one end where skaters pay admission and rent protective gear. The Park Authority included the skate park in a Master Plan in 2000. Funding for the project was approved in a 1998 park bond, and the price tag was in the $960,000 range, according to park information.
Skaters were admitted free on opening day but thereafter, admission is $7.50, with a $2 rental fee for each piece of safety gear. A complete set of gear — helmet, elbow pads and knee pads — rents for $5. The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning to build nine more neighborhood skate parks that will be smaller than the one at Wakefield, and one more regional skate park similar to the one at Wakefield. Ossian Hall Park, which is located inside the Beltway in Annandale, is one of the neighborhood park locations, but the others have not been determined, said Judy Pederson, a Park Authority spokesperson.
Most of the skaters on hand for opening day wore seasoned pads, some with battle scars from other grinds or ollies.
Casey Daunt, 11, of Fairfax flaunted his disapproval for "poseurs" with a message written on his helmet with a marker.
"A poseur is a guy who wants to skateboard but he can't," Casey said. "I've been to Van Dyke [a City of Fairfax skate park], but this one's three times the size, but it costs more." It does cost more because the skate park in the City of Fairfax is free.
Wakefield manager Dan Pittman does enforce the safety rules. Skate guards are on duty as well, similar to lifeguards at a pool.
"They've all been trained in first aid and CPR. We're going to be pretty flexible, but we're not going to let them do anything dangerous," Pittman said.